The Wounds and the Scars of War
In recent weeks, the PCN&R has published citations issued to various recipients of awards for military valor, under the title “American Spirit.” We figured this was a good way for the community to remember the sacrifices it has taken to build our free society. Unbelievably, a reader wrote two weeks ago to cancel her subscription because she disliked this series. “I see no point in publishing items like Medal of Honor citations from decades ago that have nothing to do with anyone in Philipstown,” the former reader wrote.
The PCN&R maintains that remembering the incredible feats achieved by American warriors, often in life or death situations, has everything to do with Philipstown. Selfless servicemen like 2nd Lt John Bobo (Medal of Honor) and Pharmacists Mate Second Class John Bradley (Navy Cross) are the reason why Philipstown is still an American town. They are the reason why there is a newspaper and not a ministry of propaganda, why Philipstown residents speak English and not imperial Japanese, and why, on November 2, Philipstown residents went to vote in an election.
Honoring and respecting the brave and the fallen is not a political issue. It is something that all Americans should be happy to do. But, luckily for the few who are ungrateful, brave young men and women have bled for their right to make that misguided choice.
The Philipstown area is rich in military lore, and the PCN&R will continue to honor that tradition. George Washington, who reportedly gave Cold Spring its name, was instrumental in the founding of the United States Military Academy at West Point, just across the Hudson. Sergeant Albert Ireland, of Cold Spring, was the recipient of nine Purple Hearts, the most in U.S. history. Major General Daniel Butterfield, author of “Taps,” played at military funerals, is buried in Cold Spring. Cold Spring was also home to the famed West Point Foundry, which produced Parrott rifles and other munitions for nearly 100 years.
Retelling these contributions, as well as remembering the heroism of Americans from other towns across our country, is crucial to maintaining and reinvigorating the American spirit and providing people with inspiration in the darkest of hours.
We unfortunately live with the fact that the oceans no longer protect us. We live within an hour of another 9/11, and that means our men and women in uniform must be ever vigilant. They are tasked with a very un-politically correct assignment: kill or be killed. The military builds schools in war-torn countries, creates infrastructures, organizes democracies, but at the heart of it all, the mission will always be “locate, close with, and destroy the enemy.”
That has been the goal since Lexington and Concord in 1775, with muskets and bayonets, and it remains the same in Afghanistan, with predator drones and fiber-optically guided missiles. No matter what the scientists at Lockheed Martin come up with next, the human element will never be taken out of war. Troops will be on the ground, in the air, and on the high seas, taking hostile fire. They will always be separated from their families for months on end, not only defending lives, but our freedom. “The soldier above all others prays for peace, for it is the soldier who must suffer and bear the deepest wounds and scars of war,” said General Douglas MacArthur.
After bearing the wounds and suffering the scars, Marines, Soldiers, Airmen, and Sailors should never have to return to a nation that is too busy to recognize their sacrifices. “America is not at war. The Marine Corps is at war; America is at the mall,” an unknown Marine wrote while deployed to Iraq. It is a tragedy that any warrior should feel disconnected from the civilians for whom he fights.
Although, due to the economy, Americans might be going to the mall less and less, the message should not be lost. It is an absolute blessing that the vast majority of the American people, living thousands of miles away from the battlefield, do not feel the day-to-day effects of war abroad. People can go to the supermarket, pick up their kids from school, commute to work, and not have to worry about a roving band of Taliban at the next exit. Most people don’t mean to forget about the troops, they just get caught up in life. They lose touch; the same way people lose an old friend’s phone number or forget to send a Christmas card. Fortunately, a little “thank you for your service” to a veteran goes a long way.
This Thursday, Americans will observe Veterans Day, which was originally called Armistice Day. On the 11th hour, of the 11th day, of the 11th month, in 1918, World War I finally ended after four years of brutal conflict. Germany and the Allies signed an armistice, ending armed hostilities and what was supposed to be the “war to end all wars.” In 1938, November 11 became a national holiday. In 1954, in order to honor the vets of all American wars, President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Congress changed the name to Veterans Day.
Please pray for all those who have suffered the scars of war for the sake of liberty and justice.
In memory of Lance Corporal
Thomas Larson, USMC